The Cuthbert Annals IV – The Final Phase reviewed

Final Phase CoverAnd so July 2013 brings us to the end of the second series of Fourth Doctor Adventures and the final outing for Mary Tamm’s Romana. This is also the fourth of the stories in which Tom Baker’s Doctor gets to spar with David Warner’s Cuthbert, vainglorious villain from the Conglomerate and his allies the Daleks!

When we left our heroes Romana and K9 were in the clutches of the Daleks and the Doctor was on the cusp of revealing his location on the Proximan planet. Things were looking bleak, how would they survive? Stay tuned…

The Story

The Big Finish product page tells us little more:

‘The raw power of the very fabric of reality itself. And you dare to think you can conquer it?’

Cuthbert’s plan for the Proxima System is reaching its final phase.

The Doctor and Romana have been separated. The Doctor is aiding the Proximan fight-back. Romana and K9 are prisoners of the Daleks.

And as the countdown to the opening of the Quantum Gateway begins, the Daleks reveal their true intentions.

A lot of pieces are in play and Nick Briggs choreographs their arrival on the Conglomerate space station in fine form. Over the course of this one episode we are treated to:

  • Daleks disrupted by microwave radiation
  • A Dalek dimension ship attacked by missiles and a suicide run from the Doctor
  • Dalek security forces vs. Conglomerate and Proximan troops
  • A mass attack of 5,000 Dalaks

and this all to get to the mysterious Quantum Gateway!

We have K9 to the rescue, TARDIS trickery galore and a final showdown with the Daleks before Cuthbert gets to become a self-made man! All great fun and masterfully put together.

The Storytelling

I did feel the story drifted from drama to melodrama though David Warner’s Cuthbert actually stayed anchored just this side of over the top to keep things sane. It was enjoyable though maybe some characters had little time to really shine: one example is Toby Hadoke whose Mr Dorrick starts to do the right thing in this story, this is good though as Cuthbert’s plans are well advanced I am not sure how it mattered within the story.

This is  story with plenty of aftermath both for Proxima and for Earth and the Human Empire. We also end by learning how Romana’s relationship with the Doctor has moved on and the series feels complete.

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that the listener cannot be other than disappointed as they hear Mary’s last words and wish that she had been able to record more series with Tom. We should be pleased at what we have and rejoice in the quality thereof and offer our thoughts to the memory of our first Time Lady.

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